Posted by: Don Bemis | January 27, 2014

Hello, Winter!

If you look at your weather maps and see a blob of snow stuck to Southwest Michigan, that is us. 

Lois & I took separate trains to Chicago Sunday to see family, because the nearest train didn’t have any Sunday night return seats. I had to be at work on Monday.  Lois is staying a bit longer, and she could get a seat.  I dropped her off at the Bangor station 10 miles from home, and then I drove 35 more miles to Kalamazoo (locals call it Kazoo). It was a slow drive.  Thankfully, we recently got a little AWD SUV after the fourteen year old van collapsed in the street.  That’s another good story, and a fine lesson in divine providence. 

It was a great year to make the change. This winter is the hardest we have had in a long time. The roads are solid ice. The downer is that now I can’t retire for five more years until the car gets paid off. 

My nonstop train stopped three times: first due to a frozen air brake line, then for a false alarm from a trackside trouble sensor, and a LONG time just half an hour (normally) south of Chicago’s Union Station when Lois’s train died on the tracks in front of us.  My train pushed it the rest of the way, and we arrived only 3 hours late.  They had to chop the ice from both trains’ couplers with axes to connect the trains. 

Bitter cold is hard on railroads, too, but don’t knock it.  Trains were still running after busses and planes had been cancelled.  Roads were horrible.  Besides, the next time your jet’s engine dies, see if another jet will push it to the airport. 

Union Station was fuller than I have ever seen due to the number of people taking to the rails.  Even the Great Hall- normally nearly empty- was filled with lines of people.  Everybody was calm, though, and pretty much took it in stride. I’ll bet O’Hare and Midway were less calm.

I got back to Kalamazoo about midnight, because the return train also was late.  The engine had a broken windshield and had to be replaced (the engine; it was too cold to replace a windshield).  I spent the night in Kazoo.

There was only one cab at the train station, and people needed to go about four different directions.  We all piled in, and the cabbie began to distribute us.  There would have been another cab, but it had gotten stuck in a scary part of town. We could hear the panicky driver over our cabbie’s phone.  Our driver and one passenger offered to push the other cab after the rest of the passengers had been distributed.  Fortunately, it was too cold a night for criminal types to want to be out, either.

Oh, yeah- one of my gloves liked Chicago so much, it stayed there.  I had to grab a different pair of gloves at the house this morning between Kazoo and work.  It was only at 10 p.m. quitting time that I noticed one was black and the other was blue.  That probably means I now have three half pairs.

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